Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settiThe word merchandise has two meanings: creating things to sell, and arranging those things in a shop in such a way as to maximize sales. At the mention of Star Wars the first meaning becomes clear through the toys and video games, clothing, interior decor, and all manner of goods based on its galaxy of exotic characters. An old story has it that George Lucas agreed to forego his fee for the first Star Wars movie, but kept the rights to make and sell merchandise, which wasn’t considered valuable in the 1970s. The rest is marketing history.

Merchandising involves the art of positioning things in a retail environment to encourage customers to buy as much as possible. A clothing shop might display certain items together according to color, for example, to maximize their appeal to customers. Department stores dress mannequins in coordinated outfits to suggest additional purchases. Impulse items are placed at the checkout counter. In supermarkets, brands vie to get shelf space at eye level; brands displayed near the floor tend to be cheaper, or generic staples that sell automatically. Brands that lose the struggle for eye-level shelf space often die as shoppers forget them.

When customers walk into a shop, showroom, trade-fair booth, service center, or corporate headquarters, they are physically entering a brand space. The experience this environment presents needs to be consistent with the rest of the brand identity and image. It does not necessarily identical, but integrated in a coherent fashion.

The best environment designs find appropriate ways to give customers the thrill of discovery, to come across as authentic, and to echo the brand’s insights and ideas, while maintaining a visual and sensory link to the brand identity. This can be accomplished through obvious devices such as large wall decorations and custom-built furnishings, as well as through subtler means such as lighting, and even special scents wafted into a space. Customers of Singapore Airlines always remark on how good the planes smell. That scent is a deliberate part of the brand.

Signs are a key element in any environment. They establish orientation, impart information, and help customers navigate a space. Through clever use of color, typography, and form, the best signs also impart a sense of the brand’s personality. Good signage makes the whole environment better. Poor or generic signage leaves the visitor uncertain or lost, and drags the whole brand experience down.

Signs often try to employ “universal” symbols rather than words. In principle this is a fine impulse, but symbols can be ambiguous, and culture-specific. Sometimes it is better to use six common languages rather than one unintelligible icon.
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